Fundraising for good causes was hardly a new concept when war broke out in 1914, but within weeks, the British population had gone into charitable overdrive. Concerts, bazaars, flag days, theatrical matinees, concerts, exhibitions, sales, auctions and dances were all organised in order to raise money for a myriad of worthy charities, from national campaigns such as the National Relief Fund or the Red Cross, to smaller concerns like local hospitals, or homes for convalescent soldiers. Collection boxes began to appear on restaurant tables, upper class ladies prowled the streets of the West End selling flags to passer-bys and patriotic postcards were produced in their thousands with all profits going to charity.
Some of the most successful fundraisers however, came in canine, rather than human form. Again, using dogs to collect money for good causes was not an original idea. Dog care and ownership had flourished during the Victorian era, a time in which there was also an upsurge in philanthropic activity. What better way to get the public to part with their hard-earned pennies and shillings than by utlising the endearing, and sometimes irresistible, draw of man's best friend? Some doggy fundraisers became celebrities, such as London Jack who raised hundreds of pounds for the London and South West Railway Servants' Orphanage (his successor, unimaginatively named London Jack II carried on #1's good works after his demise).
Inevitably, the Great War saw more dogs than ever collecting for charity and doing their bit for King and Country. In busy areas, particularly at rail stations, they were a familiar sight often with harnesses carrying collection boxes on their backs. We picture a number of them here, from a tiny Italian greyhound being taught to pull a toy Red Cross ambulance, to the biddable Toby, who has obligingly dressed in medical-themed drag, all in aid of the Woolwich and District War Memorial Hospital fund. 'Southville Beau', is a proud looking little Yorkshire Terrier, who had collected three thousand pennies for the Wool Fund to knit socks and balaclava helmets for the boys in the trenches and then there is Laddie, the 'Tommies' Pal,' who had, by the date of this photograph, raised £130 for local wounded.
Those of you who are familiar with Mary Evans Picture Library will know that Mary, the library's founder, was a great dog-lover and we will be no doubt featuring many more dog-related First World War stories as this blog progresses. In the meantime, click here for more canine collectors